A Thank You from Miss Marple

A little few weeks ago, I wrote about how much I enjoy (re-)reading Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple books. When I asked for recommendations for which one to read, or in this case, listen to, next, Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings suggested Nemesis, because it is her favorite. Well, it is now my favorite as well. In 4:50 to Paddington, we had a witness, but no body, no suspect, and no reason. In Nemesis, we have nothing. How ingenious is that?

Unexpectedly, Miss Marple receives a letter from the lawyers of the recently deceased Mr. Rafiel, a rich businessman she met during a holiday in the West Indies. Mr. Rafiel has bequeathed a large amount of money to Miss Marple, if she can solve a crime within the next year. He doesn’t tell her what crime he is talking about, when this crime took place, or who the victim is. Miss Marple only deduces that it must involve a murder because Mr. Rafiel had been impressed by her wit and her propensity to solve murders when they first became acquainted. Mr. Rafiel has set it up so that Miss Marple takes a bus tour of Famous Houses and Gardens. He has even arranged, somehow, to have a few other people on the bus who were somehow connected to him in the past. It seems that every time Miss Marple gets stuck in trying to figure out what she is supposed to do, someone is sent along to help her out. But at the same time, there are several incidents that are apparently trying to stop Miss Marple. So are the people on the bus her friends or her foes? Or both?

After only a few days on the bus, she is invited to stay at the house of three sisters, and it is here that the pieces of the mystery fall into place. Mr. Rafiel’s son, who had been a disappointment to his overachieving father, used to be engaged to a young woman who had stayed with these three sisters. The woman disappeared, and when her body was found, the son was convicted of her murder. I won’t tell you any more details, but needless to say that if all were as it should be with this murder conviction, Miss Marple would not have been hired.

I don’t think this particular mystery is for everyone. There is not much action, but a lot of internal dialogue and quiet discussions instead. Some of the views the older characters have of the younger ones, especially when it comes to the behavior of young women, might be problematic for some readers today. I didn’t have a problem with that; I appreciated getting to know Miss Marple and her inner workings a little better. And I appreciated that she was able to see past behavior she might not agree with in order not to judge people prematurely. She is such a wonderful “people reader,” and in this book, she’s in high form. So Nemesis gets high marks from me.

Now, which one to listen to next? A Caribbean Mystery would show me how Mr. Rafiel and Miss Marple first meet, and I would stick with Emily Fox as narrator. But A Pocket Full of Rye has gotten slightly higher marks and would bring back Richard Grant, my favorite narrator. Or should I pick a different book entirely? What do you think?

That reminds me, I promised a recipe for my favorite cookie when I last asked for recommendations. Here’s my Thank You: click for the recipe. Full credit for it goes to America’s Test Kitchen.

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20 comments

  1. If it’s an audio, then perhaps go with your favorite narrator Richard Grant for the next one. A Pocket Full of Rye. I find the narrator really can make a big difference. Enjoy!

  2. My first thought was that the man hired Miss Marple as some sort of amusement: watch and see if the detective can work out almost nothing! I’ve never read Christie; is the narrator always someone other than Miss Marple?

    • I’m sure that’s what Mr. Rafiel thought when he hired Miss Marple! It is all very cleverly done. As far as I know, all the Miss Marple mysteries are told from a third-person perspective. The narrator I am referring to in my post is the narrator of the audio edition. I find that Christie’s mysteries are perfect to listen to during my commute; I don’t forget to listen to the book or to pay attention to the traffic. 🙂

  3. Your new favourite? It must be good! But then again, reading all the comments, everyone seems to have a different favourite. Which probably means you can’t go wrong with any of them!
    Thanks for the recipe. 🙂

  4. I prefer A Caribbean Mystery to Nemesis in fact. But neither is amongst my favourites. A Pocketful of Rye is great, and have you read Murder at the Vicarage? (My memory’s shocking, but I seem to think you have?) But my favourite Miss Marple is The Moving Finger, even though she’s not actually in it very much.

    • Haha, I had to check my library record to see if I had listened to Murder at the Vicarage. I have. 🙂 I think I will continue with A Pocketful of Rye and Richard Grant in April. But I know that eventually, I will go through the entire audiobooks that are available. It will be the Year of Miss Marple. 🙂

  5. This was the first of Agatha Christie’s books that I read and though it was a long time ago and many of the details have slipped away the wonderful impression it made remains. ‘A Caribbean Mystery’ is a book I can warmly recommend, and one of those I could happily read again even though I remember all of the key plot points.

    • I find that I only remember certain scenes, rather than plot points, so listening to all of the Miss Marple stories is like one new discovery after the other. 🙂 They are perfect to listen to in the car. Thank you for recommending A Caribbean Mystery. It’s in my check-out queue.

  6. Ooh, yes! This is one of my favourite Miss Marple mysteries. Even though it’s been ages since I last read it, I can still remember some of those scenes on the bus. Thank you for such a lovely reminder of this excellent book.

    As for where to go next, I would second Kaggsy’s suggestion of A Pocketful of Rye – it’s another classic.

    • I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy At Bertram’s Hotel. It seems that on Goodreads, the opinions are very divided. I enjoyed this one, but out of the three I’ve listened to so far (4:50 to Paddington, A Murder at the Vicarage, and Nemesis), A Murder at the Vicarage is my favorite.

    • You are right about Poirot apparently being more popular. My library has all of those in print, whereas Miss Marple is only there in audio. Thank you for your recommendation. I’ll listen to A Pocketful of Rye next, and then put The Body in the Library into my queue for later.

  7. Glad to have been of assistance…. :)) Pocket Full of Rye is one I’d definitely recommend. A Caribbean Mystery is good, though it’s later Christie with Miss Marple perhaps slightly out of her comfort zone. Nevertheless, I’m someone who will read *any* Christie so not necessarily an unbiased judge!

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